April 20, 2011

Take It Easy With These All-Stars

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I’ll never forget the first time I heard an Easy Star All-Stars recording. It was a warm summer evening, in front of the campfire; the type of night that calls for some chill vibes, close friends and a few good brews. With the usual hesitation that comes with showing friends new music, my friend asked, “Do you mind if I put on this reggae remix of Pink Floyd?”

No sir, I do not. I like reggae, I like classic albums, so why not combine them? This has been the formula for the NYC-based All-Stars since their 2003 debut cover album, Dub Side of the Moon. Take a rotating cast of talented musicians, a thorough appreciation for good music, add a bit of modern technology and you can begin to imagine what this band is capable of.

The Easy Star All-Stars are a dub reggae group, where the group takes heavily remixed original songs and “dubs” them over the sound of the band’s vocalists, horns and rhythm section. The result is definitely reggae, but still keeps the structure of the original composition. It’s a true listening experience the first time around and remains interesting on subsequent playthroughs of their albums.

In 2006, the All-Stars released their second album Radiodread, a dub cover album of Radiohead’s OK Computer. This musical feat garnered praise from the members of Radiohead themselves and even impressed some of the big names from the reggae world, such as Toots & The Maytals and Horace Andy. Three years later, Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band was released, adding even more great dub music to the All-Stars’ collection.

Fans of dubstep will appreciate the group’s fourth album, Dubber Side of the Moon, a collection of remixes from producers like The Alchemist and Mad Professor. Modern dubstep was born out of dub reggae and collaborations like this one can only serve to help both genres artistically.

While the All-Stars possess a consistency rare in the music business these days, they’re not afraid to push the boundaries of their music. First Light, their newest album that was released on April 18, is a collection of original songs rather than covers. My first impression of the album was positive, but stay tuned for the full album review right here in the Sun.

Ithaca’s weather might be nasty this week, but hold tight Sun readers: summer is on its way. And so are the Easy Star All-Stars. On Thursday, April 21, the All-Stars perform live at Castaways. With a new album under their belt and two years of touring experience, it should be quite a show.

Original Author: Patrick Cambre